There’s delight in finding something familiar where you’d least expect it – which is exactly what happened when I bit into these ‘Chinese dates’ called jujubes. I had eaten them before when I lived in Vietnam but had forgotten they existed until I saw them on nearly every farm stand carrying Asian veggies (it is prime jujube season in San Francisco). Jujubes look like a nut of sorts but they are actually more apple in flavor and texture than typical dates. Since apples originated from China… I think these must be a close relative.
Unlike the chewy candy of the same name, these fruits have a mild sweetness and a nearly spongy texture. I only had the Western candy once and I know they have nothing to do with these fruits. If you’ve ever eaten Vietnamese longans, dried jujubes are the dried, red date-like fruit. Otherwise, you can try finding jujube teas of dried jujubes. There’s a dried, candied box of jujubes I found on Amazon that I’ve seen in many asian stores.
There’s lots of information about the medicinal benefits of these fruits, but I think they should just be eaten for their wonderfully refreshing crunch. Just buy the larger varieties if you intend to eat fresh jujubes and save the smaller varieties to dry for tea and desserts.
* Store these in the fridge or they will dry out. They turn brown when ripe, but also start to color like this if you sit them outside… mine started to dry almost immediately.